Saturday, January 28, 2012

What is Love?

"We don't know we are worth listening to, until somebody listens. We don't know we are worth loving, until somebody loves us." Thank you Gloria Steinem. For those of you who don't know who Gloria Steinem is she was one of the women who led the feminist movement.  She was recognized for being Joy Behar's mentor in last Friday's episode of The View. This simple statement resonated with me and I found myself rewinding the dvr and listening to her simple eloquent statement over and over. with a huh. So simple and true. I felt that it could be a great blog post. So sit back and read a bit of a story... This is me, probably being the most transparent and honest about my childhood you will ever see or hear. Frankly I don't dwell on it anymore, because if you are constantly looking back you can't fix your eyes on the future, or prepare for the blessings ahead.

So much of our identity is based on life experiences, and if you don't have a firm foundation you can be so lost and alone. A firm foundation is a loving accepting home life. If we live in dysfunction our view of Love life and self worth are skewed  and dysfunctional. As children we learn to associate love with how our family life is. SO let me make this connection for you. If we see a open loving mother and father talking and expressing themselves in healthy and good ways, we are equipped with the basics to do that in our everyday life. However if we are raised in a home where no-one talks, everyone shouts, people are not respectful of thoughts, ideas, or feelings, not to mention abusive physically or emotionally our inner compass is damaged. We go through life either thinking that way is normal, and we don't realize we do it in our adult relationships...or we take charge and learn to emulate others that have come before us to get what we want. That is a constant struggle until you reach a point where you believe the statement I opened this post with.  "We don't know we are worth listening to, until somebody listens. We don't know we are worth loving, until somebody loves us." I remember hearing this statement in my first psychology class,  "Early childhood experiences leave an indelible impression on the adult personality." and I understood it immediately.
Growing up in the 70's I saw my mother struggle to support our family because my father hopped from one job to the next, had many mistresses and was for the most part absent. When he was around unless we were out in public he rarely ever interacted with me. In public I was his baby girl, he called me princess, and you would think the sun rose and set on me. I yearned for my fathers attention. They divorced for the 2nd time when I was about 6 or 7 years old and shortly after that my mother began dating and soon after married my step father. He was an alcoholic and although he didn't "run around" on my mother and was there in the home giving her and I the attention we both yearned for that hadn't been given in her former marriage and by my biological father.... there was a serious sinister undertone in our home. My step father began molesting me at the age of time went on people found out and life changed for a while. He stopped sexually abusing me, went through treatment for alcohol addiction, and was reintegrated into my home. **YES that's right they let this person move back in to the home with the child he abused. When I was in 7th grade he adopted me, and I was being raised by my step father a man who stripped me of my innocence self worth and was the second man that objectified me. I was terrified of my step father, when the sexual abuse stopped, he began to be physically and mentally abusive. HE would call me an imbecile, back hand me, choke me, hit me, or beat me with a belt. I went through junior high and high school thinking that you show a boy you like him by allowing or behaving sexually with that person.  You accept treatment that is not okay because that is how you have learned to show "love"... the best part folks is that you think it is normal, and okay for them to do it. I truly fell in love with the idea of falling in love the summer after I was a freshman in high school. An older sibling of a guy in my grade began dating me. and he treated me with love and compassion. When we got to the point of where I would have in the past been sexual he respected me enough to tell me we were young, and he liked me and valued me as a person, but we weren't ready to be physical. Lets save that for when we marry our spouses. I told him I loved him that summer when I was swimming with him at the beach he was a lifeguard at, and he held onto me and said Birdie, I'm not sure we are old enough to know what love is, but I will always respect you, and then he kissed my forehead. This guy was and always has been such a healing person in my life. We haven't talked in maybe 15 years, but I'm still in contact with his family. We are friends on facebook, and I love his wife and siblings, and parents as if they were my very own family. For the first time I saw the true meaning of love. I'd like to say that changed me and I was all better but unfortunately that's not the case, it was just the first spark of realizing I have worth, and I am loved.
Let us love ourselves enough to give the younger generations more of the good stuff. I wasn't able to get past my dysfunctional childhood experiences until I found my faith. I've learned that each and everyday we are given the opportunity to do good, live well, and love without condition. We don't have to "work" at it, we just have to be the change we want to see. Word.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Farewell Muffintop and Other Resolutions

So I opened this blog too late for my 1st of the year Resolutions but hey its never too late to have some RESOLVE right? I was working out at a great big name gym when Love and I moved to Bigtown, Southwest for what we joke about being our 4 Month Staycation where we moved us and all our stuff across country and back 4 months to the day later. Anyhoo I was working out with a personal trainer and with wonderful results I tell ya! Accept since we moved back to Littlebigtown, Midwest I have really had a difficult time restarting my fitness journey. I feel like my weight has become a security blanket of sorts. No I'm not morbidly obese, but I gained weight after a back injury and haven't ever lost it...(7 years) with an extra 90 pounds and in that time I've noticed that as a size 14-16 I don't get attention the way I used to. I also don't get people making a point to get to know the chubby Birdie unless they are either chubby gals, or on the fringe... You know former chubbys that have gotten fit for one reason or another. NO don'ttake offense I'm not saying there is anything wrong with being chubby. HECK I love me! (and I'm a bit chubby. in fact my thigh is the size my waist was when I got married to my ex hubby back in 1991). YEP embrace your chubbyness. I'm just saying if it bothers you, or if as in my case it is starting to effect your health (hello high cholesterol) for Heaven's sake just do something about it.  I also don't need to stuff my gut with unhealthy stuff as a norm... I need to get ready to start running after a baby fulltime and that takes some energy!

So Awesome personal trainer available or not I am making a commitment to move... I'm going to move each and everyday. Whether it is taking a walk, run, doing a fitness video, or playing with my friends twins... I'm moving.

This next RESOLUTION is a 2 part: I resolve to spend time each day in prayerful meditation. To focus myself, and make sure I  stay centered and actively walking out my faith. I know that I can give my best to my husband and children and others in our community whether it is IRL or Online, if I take the time to root myself feeding my faith in the Word. I have felt for the last few years that I was to finish my degree and start going to VBI I am following through on this. We are also going to make sure we consistently pay full tithe...this has been difficult over the past couple years, however I know we live better, and are able to make ends meet when we do. We have been doing this since our move back to Littlebigtown, Midwest so that is a plus.

I know that this post is a little random but all of these things have been weighing on me... so I wanted to get them out. I want to make myself accountable. SO there ya have it!

Resolutions 2012
  • Lose the Muffintop
  • Move my body
  • Feed us healthy foods
  • lower cholesterol
  • Pray, Meditate, read the Bible
  • Pay full tithe
  • Be happy, healthy, and ready for baby time 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

ICLW: Getting to know you...

Hello fellow ICLWers Welcome to my bloggy home! I hope you are all having a fabulous week so far. I figured I should give you the skinny on my story here at Birdie's Family Journey. Love and I went on our first date in November of 2008, engaged in April of 2009, and married in August of 2009... yes that was a whirlwind but I have to tell you not a day goes by that I don't thank God for my husband.  Plus we wanted to add to our family ASAP and we aren't spring chickens! I have 2 grown children from my first marriage. Froggy almost20 and Bug who just turned 18. If you want a breakdown of why I can't carry my DH's baby go here. We started our journey to baby via surrogacy during that fall, and were matched to a wonderful surrogate, who had to back out due to a home electrical fire right before our appointment for psych evals, and cycling. We were so very sad but understood that she needed to focus on her home and family. We went through a few potential matches including a family member match. We were all set to to on our journey and prepping for a June cycle when my dear hubby had a stroke due to unregulated hypertension April 30, 2010. Life changed in an instant, One month before his 37th birthday my hubby was suddenly in a fight for his life. At that instant we went from a dual income family to a no income family, and luckily we had money saved, and the ability to fall back and regroup. I had changed jobs right after we married and didn't have FMLA time allowed so not only did Love's private practice end my job did as well, while my husband was in surgical ICU and in a coma I was told by my workplace.

I spent the next year being Love's personal cheerleader and after almost 4 months in the hospital he was able to come home to a newly renovated place (had to be done for him to come home)... and we continued with on average 9-11 appointments each week for the first few months then it backed down to around 6 appointments each week and tapered off until last July when he stopped all outside therapies. He no longer practices and is medically retired, his Bp is now under control and he is feeling like its time to restart our journey in a new way. We know we still want to pursue surrogacy in the future because we have 3 frozen embryos that are great quality. We do however want to have more than 1 child so they have a sibling.  We have an appointment on February 15th to start a dIUI cycle. I look forward to sharing our journey with you all and please leave a comment, follow me, and I will for sure be following you ladies and gents back!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A.R.T. and Our Faith

So Love and I went to Church today, he actually attended service (not that that is rare...its a lifestyle for us.) and I was in a meeting with one of our Senior Pastors. We were married by her and she has been through everything with us, our pre-marriage counseling, and as my husband recovered from his stroke, through our failed surrogacy tries, and now as we take this next step toward completing our family. Now I know there is a HUGE debate in the "Christian" community regarding A.R.T. and donor gametes, as well as surrogacy, but I have to tell you... In my church home there has never been anything but open arms, love and acceptance.

So Pastor Lady and I sit down, and she starts off by saying so how are things going on the surrogacy front? We were meeting for many reasons, but her first thought for me is "Birdie, when are you gonna have your baby?" (did I mention I love this woman!) She in my mind is so much more than just 1/2 of our Senior Pastor team. She is like our very own cheerleader, or a replacement mom, as my mother passed away 8 years ago. It humbles me so much to know she is right there in the trenches rooting for us...but I digress. I say well hold on I have to tell you a few things first then I will tell you about surrogacy. So I blurt out everything Love and I have gone through since our return to Littlebigtown Midwest, and she assures me that we made a good decision regarding family,. We talk about Froggy and how concerned I was over him last semester, and I tell her what a rockstar he is being in school now and he is communicating well with his father and I. (YAY Froggy!). Then I turn the conversation to Donor IUI (which we talked over briefly during our pre-marriage counseling along with the other options open to us... Adoption and Surrogacy) and Love's change of heart regarding it. I share with her that he is ready to take this step to have a child because of a few reasons:
  1. our age 
  2. financial concerns
  3. we want to have a 2nd child and know in a couple years our finances would be in line with a surrogacy try. (For now however we just can't swing two surrogacy journeys, and by the time we could we wouldn't be able to use my eggs due to age). 
  4. Love prayed about it over the past couple years. His heart has been softened by hearing and reading other Christians stories of Family Faith and Infertility. 
I talked fast, almost like I felt I needed to plead our case then turned to her and said, so now I have to ask..."Is the Church okay with our following this avenue to start our family?" She smiled and covered my hand as Pastor Lady said this, "The Church doesn't take a formal stance on this subject. The leadership feels that this is a decision that a husband and wife must make on their own after prayerful consideration. We feel that this is between you and God. We are completely supportive either way." Have I mentioned how much I love my Church lately? Because I do, I really, really do!

We left church today feeling completely at ease with our decision, and that our Church family will be open, welcoming, loving and nurturing to our child however he or she comes into existence. AND that folks, is the definition of being a Christian. Love like Christ.

Next appointment for baby making is February 15th! Did I mention that our RE is also the coolest Christian doctor I know? When I was scared before retrieval December of 2010, he totally prayed over me...I have to say Love and I have the best support system here in Littlebigtown, Midwest.

OH yeah and Pastor Lady said a while back there was a lady at our church that emailed and asked what the Church's view on Surrogacy was, because she really felt led to become a surrogate...WOW small world, still doesn't change the fact that we are just not able to swing surrogacy fees right now. BUT  the Church Leadership is being supportive toward A.R.T. and that soothes my soul.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Infertile Fertile: my story about me

I have received so many emails, and open questions asking about my story. People in my everyday life whether it's at church, work or just friends I have met after my move here to asking about our potential surrogacy or use of donor sperm (since Love is a positive blood type with me carrying) plans since they know I have had children. I decided that maybe I should open up and explain exactly what makes me fall into the infertile community. Likely there aren't many out there who have heard about my specific ailment, so fasten your seat belt, put your thinking caps on and take notes, because here comes the story of How Birdie Is Broken! in technical terms:

My story is different, I am not infertile, yet I walk the same path to expanding my family as many Infertile couples do. Why? I have Rh disease. Rh is basically what makes your blood type negative or positive but there is more. Rh factor deals with antigen d in the bloodstream. This is where most people say "Oh yeah my (insert sister, aunt, mom, cousin, friend here) had that and they just got a shot of RhoGAM, can't you just do that?" The problem is once you have antibodies built up to specific things they never go away. In fact in this case with each pregnancy they start building once again from the vary place they ended with the last pregnancy. There are 2 other antigens also present in the blood stream to express specific blood types, c and e.  My blood type is O- I have a negative recessive blood type. From each of my parents I received cde. Lower case letters are used to show a non- dominant or recessive trait. Each person has 2 sets of these 3 specific antigens. When a woman becomes sensitized to another blood type, either through blood passing back and forth between mother and child, or transfusion, or some other unknown way blood would enter into her bloodstream she builds antibodies against the offending antigen expressed in the blood. This is purely out of protection, if our bodies didn't build antibodies against these things it could not just be harmful , but could cause death. Antibodies are the way our body fights infections, and disease.

In my specific situation I became sensitized to D and C antigens. I never received baseline testing or (Antibody titer) since this was my first pregnancy to see where my levels were. One day Dr W came in and said "oh we missed giving you the RhoGAM shot and need to do that today." When my son Froggy was born we had no clue there was anything wrong. I had a normal pregnancy, but within a couple weeks of my RhoGAM shot (given to me late at like 33 weeks instead of 28 weeks) I went into labor and the doctor had to stop it. The hospital kept me overnight and then sent me home. The next week I was in and out of the hospital and then finally the last time they wanted to keep me in for 23 hour observation after stopping labor again, I said no I want to go home. I will go see the doctor in the morning if that is okay with him. I was exhausted, being poked and prodded all night over and over, I just wanted my bed, at my home. The next morning I went to the doctor, I was sitting in the office and noticed that I started having timeable contractions. I calmly went to the front desk and told them I was contracting and they brought me in back quickly. I was dialated 2 stretchable to a 3 and 70% effaced. The doctor sent me over to the hospital and told them to stop my labor with an IV drug terbutaline.  This gave me time to get my husband home and rested since he was on midnights and had gone back and forth telling work each time I was in labor that indeed that day was baby day. He didn't want to call in to his boss with another false alarm. At this point I felt like the boy who cried wolf. :) The next morning when Dr W made his rounds he went to check me and my bag of waters broke. He calmly said well you are staying, and will have the baby sometime tonight. That was 6 hours and 7 minutes before my first child was born. SO not only do I get pregnant easy and have a great uterus I have babies quickly... (Although my sister holds the record in our family for fastest 1st baby with 3 hours.) When Froggy came out he was very yellow, the nurses evaluating him never slipped him into my arms, they wrapped him quickly and said "say hi to mommy and daddy" as they whisked him out of the delivery room in into the nursery where he could be better evaluated. Froggy had a very severe case of jaundice caused by my Rh sensitivity. I wasn't allowed to see Froggy for about 7 hours.

So here is where it gets interesting I guess... What do all those antibodies do when passed from the Rh negative mother to the positive blood typed child?  Well my body became aware that a foreign blood type that was potentially harmful to my health was inside me. In normal response my bloodstream sent antibodies built against the "intruder" across the placenta to attach to the red blood cell to "buffer" it and make it safe for me. The baby's white blood cells then acted on that when they recognized something is wrong with that red blood cell. White blood cells fight against infections in our body. SO in this case the white blood cells killed the red blood cells with antibodies attached to them. This is a vicious cycle. In my latter pregnancies when we knew that this was happening they would do amniocentesis to check the level and color of the fluid and then when it was time the doctors would bring me in for Percutaneous Umbilical Blood Sampling (PUBS) with a follow up transfusion. In effect they would transfuse the baby through me. They waited as late as possible to start this process because once you do this process it pollutes the amnionic fluic and you can't go back to the less invasive testing. Each pregnancy gets worse because the anitbodies do not go away they build from where they left off last time. the higher the antibody count the more high risk and potentially fatal to the unborn child. Froggy received 2 exchange transfusions at the hospital before coming home, then another at 11 days old. Babies do not break down iron to make red blood cells while in-utero so as the white blood cells killed the red blood cells there were no new red blood cells being made. We had to wait for Froggy to make them on his own. It was very scary and quite touch and go. With Bug's pregnancy I was moved immediately to Loyola University and the MFM group there watched over our progress. I was text book, followed all directions, residents learned to do amnios on me. Calm as a cucumber. The pregnancy was documented and used during one of the doctors talks at a continuing ed seminar he gave. Bug was born 6 weeks early and the MFM Group said they thought with how well this pregnancy went I could go through one more. Bug had 4 PUBS with followup transfusions, and 2 transfusions after birth. This ended  my successful pregnancies. I became pregnant with my son Little Bean, who was born at just 26 weeks gestation, he lived just 55 minutes. He was in distress shortly after the first PUBS and transfusion. I had to have an emergency c-section. That's not the end of my story but it definitely shows how each pregnancy gets worse until the babies are not safe and there is nothing the specialists can do to help once antibodies grow to huge proportions.

I went on to have many more losses but these first three pregnancies show clearly what happens in Rh sensitization cases. Each one gets worse, until the baby can not possibly reach a viable stage in the pregnancy.

I walk the road of an infertile, knowing that I don't truly fit into either category "Fertile" or "Infertile". What I know is the intense desire to have children, and not be able to. What I've learned is that when infertiles go month after month experiencing periods hating that their bodies are telling them they can't have the one thing they desire most. A baby.  They mourn not for the lost child as I have with Little Bean, but the hopes and dreams for that little boy or girl that seems so out of reach. She was going to be the first woman president, he was going to be a wonderful business man or the researcher that found the cure to cancer. We all mourn the hopes, and dreams we had for that child or children and that is our common bond. I don't share the struggle to conceive but I do share the struggle to mother and bring life into existence.

When my son Little Bean died, I became angry at God. I felt cold and dead inside. I remember driving to the cemetery and weeping as I lay across his grave. I thought my arms would forever feel empty.Years later I started going back to church, and reclaimed my relationship with Heavenly Father. Now I am remarried, to a wonderful man. He is here everyday, telling, showing and guiding me toward fulfilling our dream of a family together. Hand in hand, with our eyes fixed on Him we walk in faith. Do I feel sad still about past choices, and mistakes? Yes. Do I beat myself up about them? Not anymore. I know that I could have made different choices, better ones perhaps, but maybe making those choices, going through that growth has made me who I am today. I love the me I am today, and I can not wait to tell my little one the story of how we brought them to be, against the odds with faith in Heavenly Father's greater plan.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Birdie and Love About Town

picture courtesy of
So Love and I went out to eat this evening to one of our favorite Thai places here in town. (There are 2 we absolutely adore and both treat us the same!) Since Love's practice was in the downtown section we used to frequent this place a couple times a week. Isn't it funny how the owners of tiny restaurants become almost like family? We love their visits table side and how it is here in our "hometown" even though we both grew up in different areas, as professionals we have been in this area for quite a while. Everyone here in the area still treats my hubby as he was treated before his stroke, and that is nice. It's one thing that was a bit different when we moved briefly out of the area.

My hubby had a stroke in April of 2010. Directly after seeing his last patient of the evening he came up stairs to our place above the commercial building and within 5 minutes I was calling 911. That evening changed our life instantly. I will post about that night and the subsequent journey to healing in another post but tonight I just wanted to say how wonderful it is to have people around us that see Love for who he is on the inside, and aren't stopped by the sight of a fairly young man walking with a cane, or riding in his wheel chair, with his left arm and hand non functional, and his leg impaired.

I think one of the biggest struggles we've had is of family members on my side treating him like he is half of a person because of the disability now. It has been very frustrating in our infertility journey when people ask questions like, "Aren't you afraid he won't be able to help you with kids?", or "Why would you have children now?", like my husband is a burden to me. He isn't and many people with disabilities have babies everyday. He can actively contribute to our lives and to society and I find it so oppressive and frankly hurtful when I hear those types of things.

When we walk into this restaurant and are greeted with  "Hi Doctor Love! It's so nice to see you and Birdie out tonight!" The conversation turns to our move across country and back and how great it is to see us again. The families in both this restaurant and the other one in town that we adore are Asian and my hubby and I go to these places when he is in need of "comfort" food.  I realized tonight that I come to these places when I just simply need the feel of family. Nope they aren't our family... but they are wonderful with the way the treat my husband. They are helpful if he needs his chair pulled out, but don't treat him like an invalid, or someone with a low IQ. They still look at him as a peer, ask probing questions. Talk about his former practice, occasionally ask medical advice even though he is not practicing now... in short they treat him like a whole person, looking past the shell of his body and seeing the spirit inside him!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A child is born...

Yes folks! 18 years ago today my daughter was born! She came into this world red haired red faced and screaming her little lungs out! Happy birthday Bug! Though I can't hold you in my arms like when you were born I hold you in my heart always!

following her dream...

Your step father and I love you very much Bug! She is performing today in another city so we celebrated her birthday on Tuesday evening just the 3 of us! We are so blessed God chose to allow us the opportunity to help raise such a beautiful child inside and out! You've taught me much more, than I could ever have taught you. Through you I learned  what it looks like to walk out in Faith, to follow dreams, and that with God and the right perspective all things are possible... You've also shown me it doesn't matter how people treat you what matters is your response! I've seen you learn your passion, and start on the quest to follow your dreams! Keep going my sweet baby girl the world needs to be blessed by your spirit, and zeal for life!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ready....Set... Here we go!

So, I'm just kicking around here in my new digs... feeling it out! I've been wanting to update my blog and give it a new look. After searching and searching and going through so much over the last 3 years I decided heck, I think I will create a WHOLE NEW BLOG! Then right after the first of this year I talked to my friend Mary over at bright sunshine designs and she totally hooked me up! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I just love my new home here.

So I'm sure you have lots of questions about who I am. So <clears throat> Hi, my name is Birdie, and I'm an infertile... I married the love of my life in August of 2009, and we wanted to have a baby straight had some other plans. So for now the husband, I'm going to call him Love, and I are making our plan of action. I'm kinda in that infertile category that straddles the line between fertile and infertile. I have an Rh compatibility issue. SO yes I do have 2 children from my first marriage, they are super awesome kids! I have been pregnant 7 times total and have lost each and every pregnancy after my dear daughter, Bug. My son, Froggy is in college and Bug is preparing for college now.  I bet you are thinking WHY is this chick starting all over again now?  I will post more about my history, and our decision to have a child together in my about me section. Now don't go looking there, cuz it isn't there yet! <grin>  Today I just want to introduce myself and give a HUGE shout out to Mary !

**Edited now my About Me tab is up and running feel free to hear all about my Fabulous ok pretty okay life!** and don't forget to follow me I will follow you back!

Template by: Bright Sunshine Designs by Mary - Affordable Custom Blog Design © 2012

© Graphic Images from Rhialto & Hancik |